Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #58
CE Offered: BACB
Advances on the Sequence of Discrimination Training and Variables that Affect Acquisition
Saturday, May 23, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 206
Area: AUT/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Mary Halbur (Marquette University)
Discussant: Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University)
CE Instructor: Mary Halbur, M.S.

The purpose of the present symposium is to provide an overview of research advances on varaibles that impact the efficiency of language acquisition interventions. Two presentations will discuss the role of stimulus disparity within conditional discrimination training and two presentations will evaluate the efficiency of instructional sequences on acquisition of targets. In the first study, Halbur and colleagues compared the acquisition of high-disparate sounds, low-disparate sounds, and words as sample stimuli during conditional discrimination training for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the second study, Wu and colleagues manipulated stimulus disparity of color saturation and conducted analyses to identify error patterns during conditional discrimination training. In the third study, Martin, Lechago, and Romo investigated acquisition of listener skills when the instructional sequences (i.e., English-Spanish, Spanish-English, mixed language) were varied for bilingual children with ASD. In the fourth study, Devine, Cox, and Petursdottir conducted multiple experiments that evaluated the impact of tact instruction on the establishment of bidirectional intraverbals and other relations. Following the four presentations, our discussant will summarize, provide clinical recommendations for efficient teaching procedures, and suggest areas for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): conditional discriminations, emergence, intructional sequencing, stimulus disparity
Target Audience:

behavior analysts, graduate students, researchers

Learning Objectives: Following the symposium attendees will be able to: 1. Describe recent research that evaluates the efficiency of behavioral interventions 2. Consider procedures to analyze error patterns during conditional discrimination training 3. Identify areas for future research on instructional sequences and stimulus disparity during discrimination training.
Comparison of Sounds and Words as Sample Stimuli for Discrimination Training
(Applied Research)
MARY HALBUR (Marquette University), Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University), Jessi Reidy (Marquette University), Xi'an Maya Williams (Marquette University), Devin Seth (Indiana University), Chris Halbur (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have difficulty acquiring conditional discriminations. However, previous researchers have suggested that the discrimination of nonverbal auditory stimuli may be acquired more efficiently (Eikeseth & Hayward, 2009; Uwer, Albrecht, Suchodoletz, 2002). For example, a child may learn to touch a picture of a piano after hearing the musical instrument more quickly than the word, ‘piano’. The purpose of the present study was to extend previous research by assessing acquisition of automated spoken words to environmental sounds. We compared sets of stimuli comprised of words, high-disparity sounds, and low-disparity sounds for children with ASD in a multiple baseline design. In the first set, sounds and words that the children were likely to encounter in their natural environment were selected. Results suggested that sounds were acquired rather than words or more efficiently than words. However, the similarity and overlap between sounds should be considered. Clinical applications and suggestions for future research will be discussed.

Quantitative Analysis of Parametric Changes in Sample Disparity With Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Basic Research)
WEIZHI WU (Florida Institute of Technology), Tiara Putri (Florida Institute of Technology), Shawn Patrick Gilroy (Louisiana State University), Corina Jimenez-Gomez (Auburn University), Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University)

Conditional discrimination skills are foundational in teaching many functional skills in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Antecedent- and consequence-based intervention are commonly used without the understanding of patterns comprising these errors. A framework based in behavioral-choice and signal-detection theory can quantify error patterns due to (1) biases for certain stimuli or locations and (2) discriminability of stimuli within the conditional discrimination. Three children diagnosed with ASD responded in delayed matching-to-sample procedure. We manipulated sample disparity through changes in relative color saturation between samples on a touchscreen across four experimental conditions. Sample-disparity differences were high, low, zero, and a return to high disparity. Decreases in sample disparity primarily produced corresponding decreases in discriminability without systematic changes in stimulus or location biases. These findings demonstrate the use of these analyses to identify error patterns during conditional-discrimination performance in a clinically relevant population under laboratory conditions. Further development of this framework could result in the development of technologies for categorizing errors during clinically relevant conditional-discrimination performance with the goal of individualizing interventions to match learner-specific error patterns.

Effects of English-Spanish Instructional Sequences and Language Preference on the Acquisition of Conditional Discriminations
(Applied Research)
ARABELLE MARTIN (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Christine Romo (Texana)
Abstract: There is limited research evaluating how teaching multiple languages and identifying preferred language of instruction affect acquisition of verbal behavior for bilingual children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Speaking both the familial native language and the language predominantly spoken in the community is socially, educationally, and culturally relevant. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of instructional sequences and language preference on the rate of acquisition of a receptive identification task targeting English and Spanish nouns with two Spanish-English bilingual children with ASD. An adapted alternating treatments design was employed to compare three instructional sequences: 1) English-Spanish, 2) Spanish-English, and 3) mixed language (both English and Spanish at same time). Results for one participant showed the mixed language training sequence to be the most efficient training sequence and the Spanish-English training sequence to be the most efficient for the other participant. Results suggest that language preference may not impact the rate of acquisition of receptive identification targets in both languages. The results of this study provide empirical support for teaching both the familial and the dominant culture to bilingual children with ASD. Data will be collected for a third participant.
Tact Instruction as a First Step Toward Establishing Intraverbals
(Applied Research)
BAILEY DEVINE (Waypoint Behavioral Health Solutions), Reagan Elaine Cox (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Two experiments were conducted with typically developing children (5-9 years) as participants to evaluate the effects of tact instruction on the establishment of intraverbal relations between the names of U.S. states and their respective state birds and flowers. In Experiment 1 (4 participants) we compared the efficiency of two instructional sequences; tact-before-intraverbal and listener-before-intraverbal, using an adapted alternating-treatments design combined with a multiple-baseline design across participants. After tact instruction, all participants performed at mastery in probes for bidirectional intraverbals and other derived relations, so intraverbal instruction was not necessary. By contrast, only one participant demonstrated intraverbals at mastery after listener instruction. The remaining three went on to receive intraverbal instruction, but the listener-before-intraverbal sequence resulted in a greater number of trials before intraverbals were established than did tact instruction alone. In Experiment 2 (3 participants), tact-only instruction was compared with intraverbal-only instruction without a preliminary step. Tact instruction established bidirectional intraverbals for all participants, whereas unidirectional intraverbal instruction did so for 2 of 3 participants. Tact instruction took fewer trials than intraverbal instruction for 2 participants, whereas intraverbal instruction took fewer trials for 1 participant. The process of building intraverbal repertoires may be achieved most efficiently through tact instruction.



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